How many more cyclists have to die?

  • Follow Letters

Cars and bicycles compete for a limited resource - Augusta's roads.

Augusta roads are narrow and crowded. Everyone seems in a hurry and drives fast. Bicycle lanes are scarce. Cars travel three to six times as fast and weigh about 10 times more than bikes and their riders. It is obvious who dominates the roads. So why are drivers so intolerant and don't understand our vulnerability?

I hug the edge of the road and still get yelled at, buzzed, flipped off and honked at. Why do drivers resent us, when all we want to do is enjoy a safe ride? I search in vain for safe places to ride. Being female, I don't feel safe riding alone in the country. I just want to safely enjoy the sport I love.

I have been riding bicycles for 50 years. I love to ride. That isn't going to change. I moved here from Oregon a year ago, where I enjoyed riding without harassment.

I give credit to Augusta drivers who are courteous and recognize the weapon their vehicles are. Others treat us as if we are antagonistic and purposely get in their way.

I can move over only so far on a narrow road. This "battle" for the roads between cyclists and vehicles shakes me to the core. As long as we're forced to share narrow, high-speed roads, there will be injuries and deaths to cyclists.

Whether the high price of gasoline, concerns for the environment or an effort to improve health and fitness, numbers of bicyclists will continue to grow. In the future, when roads are built or repaved, they should include dedicated bike lanes.

I have ridden throughout the United States, and Augusta is the most openly hostile toward cyclists of any place I've ridden. How many more deaths will it take?

Shawn Barrett

Martinez

Comments (44) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
allhans
24865
Points
allhans 08/11/11 - 10:12 pm
0
0
It is a shame, but in todays'

It is a shame, but in todays' world your right to slow a motorist down ended about the same time that human life was considerd to be of no value. The motorists time is much more valuable to him than your life.
Sorry. I am tired. it is way past my bed-time.

Haki
31
Points
Haki 08/11/11 - 11:39 pm
0
0
The first thing the States of

The first thing the States of Georgia and South Carolina should do is regulation (yes, government regulations) of mobile phone usage to hands free. As for the hostility, you're finding out first hand that "southern hospitality," is a myth. SHARE THE ROAD!

desertcat6
1140
Points
desertcat6 08/12/11 - 05:27 am
0
0
Prepare for the barrage of

Prepare for the barrage of comments stating roads are for motorized vehicles, cars win in a crash, the law doesn't matter, and riding on roads demonstrates poor judgement. I don't beleive bike lanes or widening roads will protect riders from the reckless and distracted drivers in the CSRA. There are too many bad drivers on the road and licensing procedures are way too easy. I think we need stricter enforcement and ruthless culling of drivers and bicyclists that repeatedly violate traffic laws. Start taking licenses, increase pre-licensing requirements, revoke the privledge of driving, increase fines, confiscate bikes, and require extensive retraining for violaters. Consquences that have teeth will raise driver/biker awareness. Unfortunately loss of life hasn't done it. Over 1,200 traffic fatalities in GA in 2009. Richmond County was 6th with 28 motor vehicle related deaths.

Of course, we could always leave the roads to cars, trucks and motorcyclists and line every road with barriers to keep vehicles on the road and away from people.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 08/12/11 - 04:54 am
0
0
I have no problem sharing the
Unpublished

I have no problem sharing the road with responsible riders. Just the other day I had a group on Broad street pass me and go right through a red light. They almost knocked the side mirror off my truck. Their has to be responsibility on both sides!!

smartasugarsugar
139
Points
smartasugarsugar 08/12/11 - 06:23 am
0
0
i saw this coming years ago,

i saw this coming years ago, the long and short of it is Augusta and possibly Georgia wants to compete for global business, the aquarium, the nationals, masters and so on. here's the thing, you have to spend money to make money. just saying hey we got a long bike trail in GA. and not making any adjustments in the roads other than repainting the white line, which is grossly inadequate. some of those lines go into the grass. that's the equivalent of inviting someone into your home and saying here you can sleep on this loveseat.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 08/12/11 - 07:12 am
0
0
I take offense to Haki's

I take offense to Haki's comment that "southern hospitality" is a myth. Just because you have some rudeness (which is everywhere Haki) does not mean that there is not some real southern hospitality here in Georgia and South Carolina.

ConcernedTaxpayer
28
Points
ConcernedTaxpayer 08/12/11 - 07:15 am
0
0
I do not approve of motorists

I do not approve of motorists purposely buzzing or hitting anyone, no matter who or what they are doing. That said, I have observed bicyclists that believe they own the road. They choose to ride two abreast on narrow roads with heavy traffic where passing is impossible, they let traffic build up behind them and could care less that they are obstructing traffic. The least they could do is stop and get off the road long enough for the traffic to pass. They aren't buying gas, so they are not paying road taxes and they don't own the road!

KSL
143687
Points
KSL 08/12/11 - 07:22 am
0
0
Just yesterday I was

Just yesterday I was traveling south on Whiskey Rd. I made the slight right turn onto Silver Bluff. I had the light. What was coming at me in my lane was a young man on his bicycle. Now for those unfamiliar with the area, there is a concrete median right there dividing the lanes. He was clearly and brazenly going the wrong way. To make matters worse. There was a policeman waiting on Silver Bluff at the light to make a left turn onto Whiskey. And there is a dedicated left turn area. I wanted him to "pull over" that kid on the bicycle and chastise him for breaking the law. Don't think he did, though.

desertcat6
1140
Points
desertcat6 08/12/11 - 07:46 am
0
0
Not paying taxes just because

Not paying taxes just because they choose to ride a bike for exercise? Only a few use bikes as their only means of transportation. With that exception, adult bicyclists have cars too and buy gas to fund our roads! Drivers of electric vehicles in GA do not contribute to road funding since they pay no gas taxes.

harley_52
25845
Points
harley_52 08/12/11 - 09:16 am
0
0
When you make the choice to

When you make the choice to ride a bicycle on public roads alongside vehicle traffic, you're purposely endangering your life. You should do it with your eyes open and fully aware of the peril to which you're exposing yourself. It would be nice if it weren't that way, but it is.

When a bicycle and an automobile collide, the bicycle loses. With little or no protection from the impact of the car or the ground, the bicycle rider will almost certainly suffer serious injury, or death.

If you're unwilling to accept that risk, don't ride a bicycle on public roads. You may want to petition your government to build separate sets of bicycle roads, but taxpayers may choose not to support you. Personally, I think the laws requiring you to ride in the same direction and in the same lane as the traffic behind you exacerbate the problem, but most bicycle riders seem to disagree.

Whether bicycle riders like it or not, the driver of a car has less to lose in an accident than you do. That's the fact. If you aren't willing to accept that fact, stay off the public roads on a bicycle.

It's perfectly legal for you to stick five one hundred dollar bills in your wallet at 11:30 PM this evening and then walk along Sand Bar Ferry Road bragging about it. If you choose to do it, however, don't be surprised at the outcome.

allhans
24865
Points
allhans 08/12/11 - 09:19 am
0
0
On my narrow neighborhood

On my narrow neighborhood street, just yesterday a lawn service company had large equipment in the street, leaving my side clear so no problems, right?
Nope! One of our many selfish drivers, feeling the massive power he has behind that wheel, never slowed when he saw the truck blocking his lane...

jsg
0
Points
jsg 08/12/11 - 11:02 am
0
0
I lived and bicycled in

I lived and bicycled in Georgia for nearly over 10 years. In addition, I’ve bicycled in nearly half the U.S. states and in many other countries. For the last 5 years I’ve lived in Europe (the Netherlands and Switzerland). While the infrastructure for cycling is much more developed in most European countries compared to the U.S., contributing to safer conditions for all, what I have observed that has been the most surprising is how much more respectful European drivers are toward cyclists when bike lanes aren’t present on a road.

In 5 years of European cycling in both urban and rural settings and in both heavy and light auto traffic, I have not once been harassed. On narrow roads, cars wait patiently to pass, and drivers do not yell, swerve, rev their engines, throw items or act out any of the other ridiculous and dangerous behaviors I observed on nearly every ride in the southern U.S.

I regularly see people of all ages and walks of life cycling in Switzerland, from 80-year old couples on battery-assisted bikes to office workers and families. They use their bicycles for practical transportation as well as for enjoyment and their health. They aren’t required to pack their packs in the car to drive to the one special bike trail in the community. They ride from home, often on roads with no bike lane, and they integrate cycling into daily life. Perhaps the drivers are more respectful because they too are cyclists. The result is a safe community feeling where cyclists don’t have to approach a ride to the grocery store as if they were preparing to jump out of an airplane without a reserve parachute.

The daily lives aren’t that different than people in the U.S. (jobs, families, stress, to-do lists, responsibilities, hobbies, etc.), but the general impatience, self-centeredness and intolerance from so many drivers that I’ve observed in the U.S. illustrates a vast difference in what I would describe as a “kindness to your fellow human” measure.

When you have a comparative look at worldwide statistics on obesity and other key health markers, it’s hard to argue that the U.S. is not moving in a cost-efficient and sustainable manner. I imagine that many people would agree that easier and safer access to physical activity benefits a society’s health, so this begs the question: is the cost of U.S. communities investing in an infrastructure that supports physical activity that’s safely integrated into daily life less or more than the long-term health-care costs for a relatively sedentary society that is, at least according to the stats, getting sicker, more overweight and more aggressive (road rage) toward each other every year?

From observing the circus of U.S. politics to the way drivers treat each other and cyclists, I worry about my friends and family in the U.S. and often struggle to maintain my good ole American optimism about the country’s future. With people with differing political beliefs so bitterly divided and so many drivers seeing anything other than themselves as inferior “objects”, it’s hard to imagine how a society can move forward in a positive manner. I sincerely hope that a way is found or that perhaps my observations are the exceptions and not the rule.

REDRIDER
134
Points
REDRIDER 08/12/11 - 11:04 am
0
0
As a motorcycle and bike

As a motorcycle and bike rider. I know the dangers. I respect bike riders. This may be the only way this person has for transportation. But as I ride and see what people are doing in their (cages) Cars or trucks. They are more distracted than us two wheeler's. You can hold up a pencil and cover up a bike or motorcycle. Check your mirrors twice and look at your blind spots. Make that phone call when you reach an area you can pull over and stop. We are people with families to come home to . It is not against the law to ride. I had people tell me they should outlaw you riders after they about run me over and I ask them what they were thinking. When I drive a cage I look out for riders do you?

desertcat6
1140
Points
desertcat6 08/12/11 - 01:02 pm
0
0
For those with an open mind

For those with an open mind on the issue. This link shows some interesting statistics on bike safety in comparison to other modes of transport once you page down a bit. Data is dated and, yes, its presented from a pro-cyclist. May give some a reason to question which group is making high risk decisions.

http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/health/risks.htm

swcohen
612
Points
swcohen 08/12/11 - 01:23 pm
0
0
Since 2006, I have had three

Since 2006, I have had three coworkers killed in automobile accidents. They were driving cars or trucks, seatbelts were fastened, airbags deployed. Fact is, you get into a car, you're taking your life in your hands. Be aware of the danger, and decide whether you really want to drive somewhere. (Especially here in Augusta.) Meanwhile, I get lectures from well-meaning folks because I irresponsibly ride my bicycle to work.

Incidentally, if more folks biked to work, a rainy day would be a perfectly acceptable excuse to telecommute. Just a thought.

I do follow the traffic rules, better than many motor vehicle drivers. In fact... Nerd alert... I use the Smith System while biking... It works just as well on two wheels as four.

I'd love to see licensing and vehicle registration for bicycles. I'd pay a tag fee. It'd be a small price to pay for legally recognized legitimacy. Got no use for gas, though, so I can't contribute to the GA General Tax Fund. As compensation, I spend more on groceries than you do on fuel... Muscle power burns a lot of calories, and refueling isn't cheap.

I say this to my non-riding coworkers: Come see me when gas is $8 a gallon. I'll loan you a bike.

harley_52
25845
Points
harley_52 08/12/11 - 03:19 pm
0
0
Good find, Desertcat. Makes

Good find, Desertcat. Makes one wonder what all the fuss is about. Two recent deaths of local bicyclists is just a run of bad luck by these folks participating in an otherwise safe undertaking. Riding a bicycle on public streets is really about the safest behavior anybody could imagine.

After reviewing the article, I suppose I'll have to remain, in the words of your author, a "fearmonger." I think there is ample evidence it's not all that safe, at least around here. I also note with interest this disclaimer about the data and the conclusions by the author himself....

***"There is absolutely no way that I can furnish definite proof that bicycling is a safe activity. Those of us who bicycle on a regular basis while following the traffic laws know that it is a safe activity from years of experience, but we are also aware that other cyclists have frequent accidents, we assume due to different behavior. Nor can I do anything to reconcile my various sources of statistics."

Wow! That doesn't leave much to hang your hat (or in this case risk your life) on. If he's unwilling to vouch for his own data it leaves me more than a little skeptical.

KSL
143687
Points
KSL 08/12/11 - 05:06 pm
0
0
Well swcohen, you need to get

Well swcohen, you need to get hold of that kid bucking traffic flow and going the wrong way.

By the way, I got behind a bicycle rider who was traveling down the middle of the lane where the speed limit was 45, but out from the city where people are inclined to take 5 mph over the limit just the other day. Yesterday it was a moped rider (female) with a female passenger on a 4 lane road. She was riding at 10 mph under the speed limit in the left lane. No helmets on either one of them either. All of the incidents I have described happened in the last 5 days.

My point is that it's not just some drivers who have no respect for cyclists. It cuts both ways.

desertcat6
1140
Points
desertcat6 08/12/11 - 07:46 pm
0
0
harley, and roger. you can

harley, and roger. you can take it or leave it, but as with everything the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.

as you've hinted at before, there is risk in every endeavor in life. some activities have more than others - driving included. driving related deaths average about 30k per year across the us. over 1.2k died in ga in 2009 alone.

there is one clear fact, you risk your life every time you ride in a motorized vehicle or choose to ride a bike. which risk is greater - biking or driving?

i've never been asked if i ride a bike when applying for life insurance. i'm sure the statiticians would have caught it by now.

I never had to report bike riding as a high risk activity during routine risk assessments in the army. long distance driving, motorcycle riding, water related activities and drinking are routine reasons for being rated a high risk. the army does a good job on risk assessment, and biking wasn't considered high risk during the 22.5 years i served.

KSL
143687
Points
KSL 08/12/11 - 07:52 pm
0
0
Could it be that the reason

Could it be that the reason you are not asked is because nationwide, the number of bike riders is so small? Seriously, have you ever had to answer whether or not you skydive? Do you frequently fly in single engine planes (not the pilot)? Do you go hunting or own a gun? That's not a very good example you provided there.

desertcat6
1140
Points
desertcat6 08/12/11 - 09:11 pm
0
0
more thoughts... 1. for every

more thoughts...

1. for every report of an unsafe bike rider in this discussion, how many unsafe drivers did you see? i see near collisions at least once each time i drive over 5 miles from home. i avoid collisions at least every third time i leave home driving my van. today, while driving my son to school a lady driving her son to school passed a long line of cars that were stopped by a left turning auto at an intersection. she passed on the right in the right hand turn lane with speed and nearly missed two other cars.

2. in my experience, there bike riders, bike to workers and recreational cyclists on the road. the later two types are more likely to be advocates.

- bike riders may or may not wear a helmet and generally have fat tired bikes. some bike riders use a bike as their only means of transportation, but fail to take any safety precautions due to cost or other reasons. kids generally fall into this category too. high risk to not know and follow laws of the road. use extreme caution when driving near them.

- bike to workers usually ride to and/or from work when you drive to/from work, use lights at night, and try to be visible. typically your single rider on the road on the same roads you use. look for helmets, lights and skinny tires with optional spandex. generally follow the laws of the road. these riders will move into the correct lane to turn - give them space.

- Recreational cyclists ride for exercise and the love of the sport. typically wear helmets, spandex, and ride road bikes with skinny tires. usually ride in the early morning or after work alone or one to two others, and on weekends in groups of any size. most use lights when its dark. alone or in pairs they generally follow the rules, but some ignore traffic signs and lights if they feel its safe. group rides are visible, but the pack may block a lane or run lights on occassion - routes and times are generally well established. use caution around them, but generally these cyclists will not surprise you as you approach and pass.

mable8
2
Points
mable8 08/12/11 - 09:13 pm
0
0
Mr Bennett: I have lived in

Mr Bennett: I have lived in several States and can assure you that Augusta--or the State of GA for that matter--is NOT "the most openly hostile towards cyclists" and GA does not hold the highest cyclist deaths in the nation either. As a cyclist, I am sure you DO follow the laws and the rule of the road; there are quite a few two-wheelers who think the automobile driver owes them something and will do anything to aggravate the driver. So don't blame the drivers for things the cyclist is responsible for. Yes, Oregon has provided safety lanes for cyclists for many years; most other States have not followed suit. But even in Oregon, there are many cyclist deaths resulting from auto/cycle collisions. How do you think we drivers feel when the 2-wheeled freak decides to turn left in front of us from the right lane? I see that often--and you want to know why they get killed! Unfortunately, the driver gets the brunt of the blame as if he/she is a mind-reader. I don't have a problem with people who enjoy riding 2-wheeled vehicles, regardless of how they are powered, but I also would prefer that they mind the same rules I have to follow as well. Most drivers are courteous, just as most cyclists are; it is the few on both sides that are causing the problems and the rift. Just don't go around acting if we Georgians are the worst of the worst because we aren't, never have been, and never will be.

harley_52
25845
Points
harley_52 08/12/11 - 09:22 pm
0
0
Well, Desertcat, I don't

Well, Desertcat, I don't agree with your premise that "as with everything the truth is usually somewhere in the middle." In my view, the truth is where you find it and it's most often not a compromise. In this particular case, I can't see any truth in the belief that riding a bicycle on public roads alongside cars and trucks in the same traffic lane presents the same risk as riding in one of those cars or trucks.

The bicycle presents far less protection from harm than does the steel shell of the motor vehicle, it's grossly outweighed by same, and is usually traveling much slower than the vehicle which presents a hazard each time a vehicle approaches. For most people it's intuitively obvious riding a bicycle is more dangerous, but you continue to argue nonetheless. You're more than welcome to believe it's just as safe as riding in a car if you choose, I'll believe otherwise for the reasons I've presented. No big deal, really.

I don't know the reason you weren't asked if you rode a bicycle during your 22.5 years of service. Maybe they concluded JEDI Knights weren't bothered by danger like the rest of us mortals.

KSL
143687
Points
KSL 08/12/11 - 09:41 pm
0
0
Actually, desert, no unsafe

Actually, desert, no unsafe drivers. Sorry you drive around in such unsafe areas. I don't seem to.

KSL
143687
Points
KSL 08/12/11 - 09:59 pm
0
0
And I agree with Harley. I'm

And I agree with Harley. I'm not driving on an Interstate Highway in one of those Obama bubbles taking my licks when a big truck driver happens to make a mistake (not saying that the most of them would make a mistake). Yes, a tractor trailer is going to crush me in a full sized car if it takes a mind to doing that, but I'm definitely not going to be riding a bike. Oh, they do drive those rigs on regular roads as well.

KSL
143687
Points
KSL 08/12/11 - 10:01 pm
0
0
LOL, harley.

LOL, harley.

KSL
143687
Points
KSL 08/12/11 - 10:02 pm
0
0
I should read all before I

I should read all before I post.

desertcat6
1140
Points
desertcat6 08/12/11 - 10:05 pm
0
0
KSL - actually i have been

KSL - actually i have been asked if i skydived, whitewater rafted, rock and mountain climbed, scuba dived, and a short list of other activities when applying for life insurance throughout my life.

biking was never listed on the applications. the bike industry estimates about 16-19 million bikes are sold each year. 5-6 million of which i would consider adult bikes based on wheel size each year. number of deaths each year varies but is generally less than 1,000.

39.3 million Americans age seven and older were estimated to have ridden a bicycle six times or more in 2010, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. The age limit on this number eliminates millions of young people who ride bicycles with wheel sizes 19" and under. safe to say there are millions of bike riders.

By comparison, skydiving. average united states parachute association membership is about 33K - most skydivers are members. In 2009, the USPA recorded the fewest fatal accidents in nearly 50 years—16—out of nearly 3 million jumps made by more than 32,000 USPA members and 400,000 first-time skydivers. that's a low population.

KSL
143687
Points
KSL 08/12/11 - 10:10 pm
0
0
desertcat, I don't really

desertcat, I don't really care to have to learn the traits of various bicyclists who now inhabit the roads because I do pay fees or taxes or whatever you want to call it to be there in my car. They, (you) don't if you are riding that bike.

desertcat6
1140
Points
desertcat6 08/12/11 - 10:33 pm
0
0
KSL - yes, been asked

KSL - yes, been asked multiple times about high risk actiivities when applying for insurance.

biking population is over 30 million excluding those under seven. 30 million seven and up who rode 6 or more times or more a year. 5-6 million adult size bikes sold each year. 700-900 fatalities per year. 15 deaths max per 3 million rides if they only rode 6 times each. the risk decreases with each additional ride over 6.

skydiving population is roughly 35K each yr. 400k gave it a try last yr. 3 million jumps w/ 16 deaths.

Harley - you can do better.

KSL
143687
Points
KSL 08/12/11 - 10:38 pm
0
0
Interesting. I'll have to ask

Interesting. I'll have to ask my husband if he was asked about that when he applied last time for life insurance a few years ago, in his late 50's. Very late 50's to add his exiting insurance.

Could age and judgment have something to do with it?

Back to Top

Top headlines

Kettle donations rise in 2014

After a disappointing showing last year, donations to the Salvation Army's local Red Kettle Campaign have risen nearly 20 percent in 2014.
Search Augusta jobs